Gender inequality is a serious global issue. To address it we must invest in women throughout their lives. The WildHearts ‘StartHer’ Strategy supports women and girls through three initiatives: Enterprise, Education and Health.

StartHer in Enterprise

75% of the world’s women are excluded from all forms of banking and credit. Due to their economic status women endure such violence that there are more women missing today than all the men killed in all the wars of the 20th century. It is the moral crime of our age. We all pay the price for this ‘financial apartheid’. In countries where girls are uneducated and women marginalised, chaos and fundamentalism are rife and poverty seemingly intractable. This is no coincidence.

WildHearts confront this issue by providing predominantly female entrepreneurs in forty low-income countries with micro-loans. Women invest 90% of their income back into their families’ nutrition, healthcare, and education. As a result, our investment in women transforms whole communities, making microfinance a key driver of the StartHer Strategy.

Not only do these women free themselves from the external symptoms of poverty but as they become economically empowered they free themselves from the internal effects of poverty; they learn to value and respect themselves and refuse to accept the abuses they had previously been subjected to. They become active citizens, create jobs, educate themselves, and empower their own daughters. WildHearts has its own social microfinance institution MicroLoan Foundation, which has enabled 280,000 female entrepreneurs to start-up and grow micro-businesses. These entrepreneurs are an inspiration to us all.

Case Studies

StartHer in Education

Aside from war, one of the main barriers to educating girls is discrimination. In Sub-Saharan Africa 80% of young women have not completed secondary education and one in three women cannot read. The implications of this are severe:

  • Uneducated girls are most vulnerable to trafficking and 3 times more likely to contract HIV.
  • Women with secondary education marry later and have an average of 3 children. Uneducated girls are more likely to be child brides and have an average of 7 children.
  • Children of educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past the age of 5.
  • A single year of primary education increases a girl’s wages in adulthood by 20%.
  • Over the past thirty years, had women been given equal access to education and employment opportunities, Africa’s economies would have doubled in size.

As a result, education for girls has been described by the United Nations as the closest thing to a “silver bullet” for sustainable growth and human development. This is why WildHearts facilitates and champions girls’ education. Our microfinance programme enables clients to send not only their sons to school but their daughters too. The StartHer in Health initiative ensures that the health issues adolescent girls face are not barriers to their education, enabling them to stay in school. We distribute education packs to children in Malawi, providing essential tools for learning, ensuring they can go to school.

Ref: UNAIDS; USAID; UNESCO; UN Girls’ Education Initiative; World Bank; UNESCO; United Nations Department of Public Information

StartHer in Health

A key barrier to girl’s education in low-income countries is a lack of access to basic Menstrual Health Management. Girls drop out of school during their periods, missing up to 4 days of school every 4 weeks.

In South Africa, this issue is particularly prevalent;

  • 1/3rd of girls in South Africa report dropping out of school during menstruation.

To facilitate access to education for girls the WildHearts Foundation provide reusable sanitary pads in South Africa. The goal is to increase school attendance and reduce the implications of girls dropping out of school due to their periods.

  • When girls have no access to sanitary pads, attendance rates in secondary schools decrease by 25% in comparison to 1.5% when sanitary pads are distributed.

WildHearts distribute reusable sanitary pads to girls in the hardest to reach areas of South Africa. With the continued support of our customers and partners, we will expand this life-changing initiative into neighboring countries, ensuring girls not only go to school but stay in school. To date, we have manufactured and distributed over 50,000 reusable pads to schoolgirls between ages 9-18 in areas vulnerable to period poverty. Every stage of the process from production to distribution empowers local South African Women and girls.

Ref: PLoS One Medical Journal, Ugandan Study, 2016; UNICEF, 2014; World Bank, 2015